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How To Manage Time Well

Jun 17, 2008
If we all have 24 hours in a day, why is it that some of us feel like we have no time at all, while others seem able to balance work and leisure?

The 80/20 Rule

According to Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, 20% of what we do produces 80% of the results we see while 80% of what we do produced 20% of the results we see. If this is so, than many of us are expending a lot of energy for relatively nothing. That's what makes time management and learning to say "no" so important to achieving quality of life.

The Time Management Quadrant

According to Stephen Covey, virtually everything we do can be categorized into
Urgent or Not Urgent
Important or Not Important

You could also add
Controllable or Not Controllable

Watching television is Not Urgent and Not Important but we waste so much time doing it, mainly because we're stressed out and it's become a form of relaxation. To gain more hours in your day, try creating 4 lists
Urgent-Important
Urgent-Not Important
Not Urgent-Important
Not Urgent-Not Important

List everything you do and how much time it takes. Then check off the items that are under your control to change. Do this for a week and it'll become much clearer which 20% of your effort produced 80% of results and which 80% of your effort produces only 20% of results.

Just Say No

The next step is learning to say "no" to Not Urgent-Not Important demands on your time. Research has shown that most people respond favorably to statements that include "because." Saying "no" and giving a reason (such as you have something important to do or it's not in the person's best interest to have you say "yes") is more likely to be accepted. This relieves you of an unnecessary burden while still maintaining good relations with the requestor.

Keep a Time Diary

Keeping a time diary will be very eye opening. I once had a client find 6 hours in his week to do what he loved - sailing - by keeping a time diary. Basically, you write down everything that you do for a week. The more detailed you can get, the more powerful this exercise will be. Once you see where your time is going, put those activities into the Time Quadrant. It'll become more obvious which activities are Not Important and Not Urgent. Maybe you'll find 6 extra hours in your week!

If you follow these guidelines, you might be pleasantly surprised to find your "busy lifestyle" has suddenly become much more balanced!
About the Author
I have been helping people reach their personal and professional goals for the past 14 years. There's nothing more satisfying than helping someone reach their potential for success. I would like the opportunity to help you reach your goals. I am a Professional Coach with a Ph.D. in Psychology and a specialty in Goal Achievement and Transitions. Check out my websitehref>to learn more about me, then call me for a free consultation.
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